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RQ: Advanced Degrees

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A reader asks,

I’ve read that State doesn’t take Masters or PhDs into account when making your initial salary offer.  Why not?  This seems like it would discourage a lot of otherwise qualified future FSOs.

I sympathize with those earning an advanced degree when they get an offer of employment – I was one of them!  But I think it makes sense in the end.  Keep in mind that I have no idea what the actual reasoning behind the policy is (above my pay grade), but here are some thoughts.The first reason is that there’s no guarantee you’ll actually finish your degree.  While some argue that not accounting for degrees in progress discourages qualified candidates, others could easily argue that taking degrees in progress into account would cause an increase in University of Phoenix Master’s degree program applicants.  Not exactly what I’d consider the cream of the crop.  Also, there aren’t any educational requirements to become an FSO in the first place, so how does a Master’s degree you haven’t earned make you more valuable to the Department?

In the larger picture, State is very clear that one should join the Foreign Service on your own terms.  If completing your degree is more important to you than joining, you should do that.  If the costs of joining outweigh the benefits of completing your degree, then that’s a similarly easy choice.  I don’t think State’s policy on degrees in progress is an unreasonable one.  Offering salaries on potential is a slippery slope that’s better to avoid all together.

Anyone else affected by this policy?  What are your thoughts?  Am I totally off my rocker on this one?  Let me know in the comments.

Be sure to check out past Reader Questions in the Archives.

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Written by OSB

23/04/2013 at 07:12

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